Interview: Out of the Closet with Plus Size Trans Guy

Shane Stinson, also known as Plus Size Trans Guy, is a 26 year old trans man who lives in the heart of the Midwest. During his undergrad at Mizzou, he came out as transgender and took the campus by storm. Shane’s coming out story was shared on Mizzou’s website and picked up by the Associated Press and was told around the country. The experiences he faced at Mizzou as a transgender person inspired him to work towards creating a more inclusive environment at Mizzou. After graduating with degrees in Women’s & Gender Studies and Psychology, Shane still works at the University of Missouri as the Talent Management Coordinator for Residential Life. When he’s not working his 8-5, he provides educational training sessions on how to be a better ally to the trans community along with managing the Plus Size Trans Guy Instagram. When he gets some free time, he loves to spend it watching a good documentary while cuddling with his partner and cats.

We caught up with Shane to find out more about his personal style, Plus Size Trans Guy, and what to expect from him next.

 

dapperQ: Tell our readers about Plus Size Trans Guy. When did you start Plus Size Trans Guy and what inspired you to start sharing your style?

Shane: I started Plus Size Trans Guy about a year and a half ago to start sharing my journey of embracing my body and my authentic self. I was inspired by the lack of representation I saw of chubby trans people in the media and fashion. Social media played such a critical part in me discovering and embracing my trans identity. Instagram, Youtube, and Tumblr allowed me to connect with other people who are trans by seeing, hearing, and being a part of their journey. However, I never saw stories about plus size trans people. This made it hard for me to envision what it would be like to transition as a chubbier person. Many of the common steps and shared experiences for trans men were harder to navigate because of my size. For example, finding a chest binder that would fit my tummy while also flattening my larger chest was not easy.

I started @plussizetransguy as an act of self-love. It has become the representation I needed during my transition. I think fashion has become a focus on this Instagram profile and a new passion of mine because it gave me the self-confidence to express myself and walk into the world, before I passed as a man. It allowed me to start feeling at home in my own body before I started to medically transition. I wanted to show others how fashion can play such a vital role in falling in love with your body, while also communicating who you are to the world. I’m only on Instagram right now, but you’re going to find me on more platforms soon.

dapperQ: How is Plus Size Trans Guy challenging mainstream fashion media more generally, and also more specifically, how is Plus Size Trans Guy challenging how mainstream fashion media portrays trans narratives/bodies?

Shane: Plus Size Trans Guy was born because mainstream fashion media is not serving plus size, trans and queer people. As a short and chubby transman, having to navigate the men’s section in clothing stores is a nightmare. The majority of clothing is not made for trans, queer, and plus size bodies. Shopping has always been a daunting endeavor, even though I always found joy in coming home with the perfect outfit. I’ve learned that persistence, patience, and creativity is key, but finding clothing you love shouldn’t come at the price of shame and defeat. I believe that fashion should be accessible to all bodies and genders. I try to show my audience that they are wonderful and deserving just as they are when so many factors and people in the world are telling them they are not. There is no right or wrong gender. There is no right or wrong body type. Mainstream media needs to stop enforcing the beliefs that there are right and wrong ways to be. Plus size trans and queer people exist and are going to continue to exist and look damn good with or without approval. Plus Size Trans Guy challenges the idea that cisgender and thin or fit people are more desirable or marketable than transgender people. It shows the world that you can be plus size, trans, and queer while also being stylish and successful.

We are just now starting to see more trans models and experiences in the mainstream fashion media. In the majority of these narratives, we are seeing trans people whose identities fit within the gender binary. We are also seeing many white trans people whose bodies are thin or fit. It is almost like the narrow and exclusive expectations of what it means to be a “real woman” or a “real man” are more strictly enforced in the trans community. I find myself in the majority of those identities represented. I am a white, masculine transman who passes. I have a lot of privilege navigating this world and I can see a majority of my story represented and communicated widely in the media. The part of my story I rarely see or hear being discussed in the media is being a part of the trans community and being plus size. Navigating medical and social transition as a fat person looks entirely different. When searching the world for trans role models and experiences to relate to, I couldn’t find a single person whose body type resembled mine. Being trans and fat comes with its own set of unique experiences and challenges. Plus Size Trans Guy shows people how this fat, transman exists in this world, despite its attempts to keep me out. It is a space of inspiration for others to show them they belong, just as they are.

dapperQ: What or who were your early passions and influences?

Shane: As early as my baby queer brain can remember, I was enamored with Ellen DeGeneres. For me, Ellen opened the door to dapper and queer fashion. She carried herself with a certain confidence that looked effortless, which was something I could never do easily. I felt uncomfortable in and separate from my body for the majority of my life, which made it incredibly difficult to dress and express myself genuinely and proudly. She looked damn good as she successfully navigated the world as her authentic self. This made me feel like I could too. After finally coming out as queer in high school, I felt liberated to express myself in ways that are more masculine. Coming out opened a new realm of style possibilities. I started to dip my toes into the possibilities by modeling after her.

dapperQ: How would you describe your current fashion aesthetic?

Shane: My aesthetic is queer, colorful, and eccentric with a cherry of dapper on top. I enjoy creating looks that excite, inspire, and captivate. I try to push boundaries with my professional wear by bringing more fluid and feminine items into traditionally masculine outfits. When I am not working my 8 to 5, you will definitely see me serving some trendy and edgier looks. My style is a direct expression of my personality and lifestyle. You’ll see my brightness and positivity reflected in the colors, my rebellious side reflected in the tattered denim and monochrome palettes, and my individualism and creativity reflected in the unique accessories I choose. I strive to be bold and unique. One of the ways I share and express who I am with the world is through my style.

dapperQ: Where are you based out of? Do you feel that your city/region influences your style? If so, how?

Shane: I currently live in the middle of the middle in the city of Columbia, MO. Midwest culture absolutely influences my style, but not always by choice. In more rural areas, stores do not always carry the most “fashion forward” items. Due to the demographics in my region, I’m sometimes limited to what stores have available based on the clientele. Functionality can be considered more valuable than the statement an article of clothing can communicate or express. The function I focus on is purpose and I ask myself, “What is the purpose of this piece?” “What is it communicating about me, who I am, and how I want the world to know me?” Every article of clothing I have has a “function” and that function is telling a small chapter of my story.

 

dapperQ: What other fashion bloggers/influencers/zines are inspiring you right now?

Shane: On Instagram, I am constantly able to filter through a variety of styles and trendsetters that I can pull from for inspiration. Recently, I have been into fluid looks that embrace a combination of masculine and feminine energy or toss out the gender binary all together. Funky patterns and daring color choices have captivated me. Using accessories to level-up a more basic look has opened up a completely new closet of outfits. I have also been thrilled to see more classic styles elevated with a modern twist. Some people I always find myself gravitating towards for inspiration are Tan France (@tanfrance), Jazzmyne Robbins (@jazzmynejay), Jonathan Acosta (@jonnyonthego), Troy Solomon (@abearnamedtroy), and Ady Del Valle (@adydelvalle_).

 

dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?

Shane: Since I have not had top surgery yet, my gc2b binder is a necessary staple. I rarely leave the house without it. It helps me feel complete in a way my body is unable to fulfill by itself. It serves a very functional purpose, but also works as a sexy tank top in the summer. When I think about an article of clothing that makes my heart sing, I always land on my cobalt blue, velvet blazer. It is definitely an eye catcher and takes any show stopping outfit to the next level. When I find a piece of clothing that is flattering, unique, and fits well, it will always have a place in my closet.

dapperQ: What can we expect next from you?

Shane: If there is one thing for sure, I am not stopping here. My plan is to create more content across a variety of platforms in the near future where I discuss trans and queer experiences in the plus size fashion realm, help style others, and share my own personal journey. I want to continue to expand this brand into all kinds of opportunities. Plus Size Trans Guy is just now beginning and there is no telling what the future may hold.

Love Shane’s style? Get more on Instagram at @plussizetransguy

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